When I was a kid, my mom had this ocean in a bottle. It was in a jug and there were two liquids in it that just wouldn't mix. One was blue, the other was clear, and no matter how much you moved, shook or jiggled that jug, you just had these mesmerizing waves chasing themselves around the bottle. It was beautiful and serene and I loved to watch the tiny ocean slosh from side to side. The whole thing was so lovely, yet bound up. Confined. Safe.
I live in Oregon. From my little valley, it's just a jaunt over a mountain range to the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon coast (if you're from here, you know better than to call it the beach) is known for cold, grey, stormy seas crashing up against stony cliffs. There's not a lot of sandy land on which to build your house on the Oregon coast, but you learn to be wary of what looks like solid rock here too. It's all subject to the battering waves. Here, the ocean is unbound. Vast and Dangerous.
Sometimes, I like to stuff what I know about God into a bottle to watch and marvel at from a safe distance. Like eleven twelfths of the disciples, I'm happy to appreciate him from the safety of the boat. Wow, Jesus. That's really awesome that you can walk on water! You can do anything can't you? That's just wonderful. Praise! Now I'll just wait until you saunter over here to the boat and I'll tell you how much I love you.
But that's not what Jesus wants from me. He wants me to be out there with him, like Peter. He wants me to be so moved by His greatness that I'm ready to step out into the waves.
But am I ready? Because it's not safe out there. There's wind and waves and I'm prone to seasickness.
It's a choice we all have to face at some point on our journey as daughters of Christ.
I've stepped into the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii. It wasn't so bad. It was tranquil, warm and serene. It's not scary to think about stepping into that ocean. But that's the same ocean, the same vast bunch of salt water that hurls itself against the rocks along the Oregon coast. I've stepped into the water there too. It's cold. Toe numbing cold. It's fierce. Kids in Oregon learn to never turn their back on the ocean because the sneaker waves will get you. It's dangerous. Same ocean.
But it is beautiful. Take your breath away gorgeous in the stormy season and on the 3 days a year when the sun comes out and it's not too windy to stand up. There's something compelling about it's vastness and power. Knowing that here the waves crash, but miles away, they lap the shore. Knowing that life teems under the whitecaps and grey-blue surface. Knowing all of this, are we really content with the God we can watch in a bottle via second, third and fourth hand experience?
Or like Peter are we so overcome with this awesome power that we need to jump in and live it ourselves.